Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We spent the majority of the time on the science section this week. I told the student most of the strategies for this section, such as overviewing visual information first and searching for key words. She struggled with understanding the underlying concept behind some questions and often thought multiple answers sounded the same. Therefore, we worked on searching for the different element of each answer choice (eg. what word or concept made it different from the other options). This seemed to really work for her, and she could find many more answers on her own once she identified the differences between answer options. This process is still quite slow, but her accuracy improved greatly. We worked on math for the remainder of the time. The student learns concepts very quickly; she just doesn't know or remember a lot of them before we cover them. The book she is using now gives problems in a more standard math-class type of way than the actual ACT does, so I am ready to start working out of the ACT book with her. I want her to have opportunities to work on general problem solving and not just how to solve equations."
"In this session, the student and I worked on reading and writing for the ACT. We started with the English section: I gave the student some tips about how to work on the English section, and he then worked through the questions for one English passage. He did well on questions about the purpose of a section of the passage and the effect of adding or deleting a sentence, but had more trouble with some questions about grammar and punctuation. We talked about when to use commas, semicolons, and dashes, and how to recognize questions about correcting redundancy. We then moved on to work on one reading passage. From his summary of the passage, the student showed that he understood its main points well. We talked about how to work through the reading section, and I recommended that the student check back frequently in the passage, and to mark up the passage to help him better find information. He did well overall with the questions, but had trouble with two questions that involved more interpreting a section or a sentence, rather than finding information stated explicitly in the passage. For more practice, the student can also use a timer to check his time while working through one or more reading passages. In the last part of the session, we talked briefly about the optional essay portion of the ACT. I gave an example of how I would go about creating an outline for an essay prompt. If they have time, the student can write a practice essay for either an ACT or an SAT test prompt, and scan it to me for comments."
"Today we went over most of the grammatical and structural topics that will be tested most on the ACT English section. We identified the 4 C's of the English section- completeness, consistency, clarity, and conciseness. Next we developed a general strategy for the English section: identify the topic being tested, eliminate the bad answer choices rather than predicting and matching, and relying on your ear. We first went over the tenses of verbs before talking about verb-subject agreement errors. We went over some common irregular past participle verbs. Next, we did the same for pronouns and, similarly, identified the tricky singular pronouns (anyone, either, nobody, each, etc.). We talked about prepositional phrases (at, between, by, in, of , onto, with, etc.) and how the ACT will throw a lot of these into a sentence to distract you from identifying the subject and verb of the sentence. In the second half of the session, we started talking about complete and incomplete ideas and how the ACT tests the usage of punctuation and conjections to link these to one another. We went over STOP punctuation (. ! ? ;), which connect two complete ideas, as well as YELLOW LIGHT punctuation (a single comma) which only connects a complete idea with an incomplete idea (order doesn't matter). I introduced the vertical line test to identify what kind of punctuation is needed in either situation. We also discussed the rules for colons and single dashes: they both link a complete idea to either 1) another complete idea or 2) an incomplete idea. Here, the order DOES matter. Double dashes or double commas are used around extra information, meaning if they were eliminated (punctuation included), the sentence would still make sense on its own. We finished the lesson talking about modifiers and modifier placement. We did lots of examples of all of these topics."